28 October 2010

A short reflection on the benefits of local booksellers

a.) They’re local. For me, a young man without means of independent transportation beyond his own two legs, that is a definite plus. To be sure, there is also a Borders within walking distance, but from my house – not from campus. That would require going in the other direction. Also, sometimes I just need to get out of Posvar and into a used bookstore; it’s really a meditative experience for me.

b.) They’ll cut you a break. I arrived at Townsend Booksellers yesterday about three quarters of an hour before my part-time job started (at 9:45), but they didn’t open officially until ten. I saw one of the proprietors outside and asked him if I could come in. He asked me what I was looking for, and I said ‘something by G K Chesterton’, and he asked if I’d wait for him to open up (which he did) so I could look around. He also helped me locate the sections where he knew works by Chesterton could be found.

c.) They have really top-notch material, which often you can’t find in chain stores. The hardback 1985 edition of As I was saying: a Chesterton reader (an anthology of some Chesterton excerpts); an old clothbound copy of Chesterton’s Autobiography; a book of his poems (priced far too dear for my blood, since it was apparently signed by Chesterton – it was still fun to read for awhile, though). Townsend also had Barth’s Church Dogmatics, Niebuhr’s Christian Ethics and several books by Tillich, Yoder and others in the religion section. Their philosophy section was likewise marvellously represented, from Plato to Merleau-Ponty. I bought two of the Chesterton books mentioned above; I’m currently enjoying each line of As I was saying.

d.) They are beautiful. Like I said, being in Townsend Booksellers, even for just half an hour, was a meditative experience – the dense-packed books of various ages on real wooden shelves, sitting on a real hardwood floor, giving off the comforting odours of a private library, all have a very calming effect. The fact that the proprietors knew what was in their stock, and could state (either affirmatively or negatively) whether something was there, also impressed me greatly – they obviously put a great deal of care into their business.

On another topic, two days more until the Rally to Restore Sanity, which I shall be attending. Sanity is as worthy a cause as any, though I suspect my own rather eclectic political inclinations will be slightly oblique with reference to the majority of the people who will be attracted to a Jon Stewart-hosted event. Even have my own demonstration poster printed off and all! Hope to bring back some good pictures…

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